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What work do the women do?

The people here [Champagne, France] were ill clothed, and looked ill, and I observed the women performing the heavy labours of husbandry; an unequivocal proof of extreme poverty. In Burgundy and Beaujolois they do only light work in the feilds, being principally occupied within doors. In these counties they were well clothed and appeared to be well fed.
To William Short, March 15, 1787

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Sensitive leaders look for clues to people’s well-being.
Jefferson was reporting to his personal secretary in Paris. He was two weeks into a three month tour that would take him through France and parts of Italy. The surface reason may have been to visit the healing hot water springs at Aix, to soothe the broken and poorly set wrist he suffered a few months earlier. The water’s healing effects availed little, yet Jefferson inquired about everything as he went.

Here, he contrasted two regions of France, one poor and one prosperous.
– In Champagne, people were “ill clothed and looked ill,” obvious malnutrition. Women did heavy, outdoor work, probably the same farm work as men. That was an undeniable sign of “extreme poverty” that afflicted all but the privileged classes
– In Burgandy and Beaujolois, however, people were “well clothed and appeared to be well fed,” presumably healthy. Women’s work was mostly indoors, domestic tasks, with “only light work in the fields.” Economic prosperity required heavy physical work from the men only while protecting the women from that fate.

“Please know how much I appreciate all your effort.
You provided a real service for the educators of Missouri.”

Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education
Mr. Jefferson will provide a real service for your audience, too.
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What qualities characterize genius?

I sit down to petition your suffrage [vote] in favor of a friend … the Revd. James Fontaine, who offers himself as a candidate for … chaplain to the house of burgesses. I do not wish to derogate [detract] from the merit of the gentleman who possessed that office last, but I can not help hoping that every friend to genius, where the other qualities of the competitors are equal, will give a preference to superior abilities. Integrity of heart and purity of manners recommend Messrs. Price and Fontaine equally to our esteem; but in acuteness of penetration, accuracy of judgment, elegance of composition, propriety of performing the divine service, and in every work of genius, the former [Price] is left a great distance behind the latter [Fontaine].
To William Preston, August 18, 1768

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Discerning leaders appreciate goodness but give preference to genius.
The 25-year-old Jefferson was studying to become a lawyer and observing the meetings of the House of Burgesses, to which he would be elected four years later. He wrote in support of a new candidate to be chaplain of that body. He made these observations in recommending the challenger over the incumbent:
1. He would not criticize the current office-holder.
2. Genius should be encouraged.
3. When both possess equal qualities (“Integrity of heart and purity of manners”), superior abilities should be recognized.
4. Those abilities in Fontaine were:
– Keen insight
– Wise decision-making
– Excellence in writing
– Proper execution of spiritual responsibilities
– Excellence in every intellectual endeavor

Jefferson went on to encourage Preston, not to rely on his word only, but to ask others’ opinions, too.

“… we wanted an “upbeat” kind of talk.
That’s exactly what you gave us.”

Clinical Laboratory Management Association, Central NY Chapter
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Leave a comment Posted in Intellectual pursuits, Personalities of others Tagged , , , , , |

I do not care what it costs. Just do it.

may I ask the favor of you to present my request to your son that he would be so good as to make a copy of the portrait he took of me, and of the same size? it is intended for a friend who has expressed a wish for it; and when ready I will give directions to whom it shall be delivered if he will be so good as to drop me a line mentioning it & the price.
To Charles Willson Peale, February 21, 1801

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Smart people, not just smart leaders, know the cost in advance.
Peale (1741 – 1827) was a noted Philadelphia painter. He also owned a distinguished natural history museum there. (Many of Lewis & Clark’s specimens from their western expedition found a permanent home in Peale’s museum.)

Peale had sons who were also painters. The son referred to here is Rembrandt Peale (1778 – 1860), named after you know who. Jefferson wanted Rembrandt to make a copy of his 1800 portrait for a friend. When it was completed, Rembrandt was to notify Jefferson and tell him what it cost.

Some of Jefferson’s financial woes were inflicted on him. Others were of his own making. This is an example of the latter. He was unfailingly generous toward others and gave no thought to the cost of such gifts, even extravagant ones like a duplicate portrait for a friend.

At age 81, he would write 10 points of advice for a young boy, based on his own life experiences. Point #3: “Never spend your money before you have it.” It was a lesson he never learned, and by that time, he was hopelessly in debt.

“Mr. Lee possesses a fine sense of theater…
using his skillful acting to impart great humanity and meaning to the words.”

Missouri Humanities Council / Kansas City Public Library
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What evil lurks in the hearts of men?*

I must ask the favor of you to call on mr Callender & to inform him that I have recieved his letter; that his fine will be remitted, but that as it requires the presence of the head of the department, it cannot be done till his arrival, which will be in a very few days. the moment he is here & qualified, it shall be dispatched.
To George Jefferson, March 4, 1801

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Not all of a leader’s supporters are friends.
Jefferson encouraged political writer James Callender to promote the Republican cause in the 1800 election, for which he was fined and jailed under President Adams’ Sedition Act. Upon release, he agitated for the return of his $200 fine. Jefferson promised the refund once procedural hurdles were satisfied. The delay rankled the irritable Callender, who took it as a personal affront.

Callender began to lobby for the job of postmaster in Richmond, VA, as recompense for what he had suffered at the hands of the Federalists. That lobbying eventually became near extortion, threatening President Jefferson with certain “facts” in his (Callender’s) possession if the job was not given to him. Jefferson did see to an eventual refund of the fine, but he ignored Callender’s threats.

Even more offended, James Callender published allegations of a sexual relationship between Jefferson and his slave, Sally Hemings. Callender’s attacks continued until July of 1803, when he drowned in three feet of water in the James River. The official cause was accidental, a result of intoxication.

According to the Founders Archives web site, this letter is the first one written by Thomas Jefferson on the day of his inauguration as President.

Callender’s allegations would plague Jefferson throughout his life and are given credence by some yet today.

*A famous line from Walter Gibson’s 1930s radio series, “The Shadow.”
 “Some of the comments we received … Very entertaining.
A good way to close out. Fun and Fitting, and Wow! What a Finish!”

Professional Event Services/Rural Cellular Association, Boston, MA
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Leave a comment Posted in Politics, Sally Hemings Tagged , , , , , , |

The President’s recommendation open doors!

The bearer hereof, mr Mills, a native of South Carolina, has passed some years at this place as a Student in architecture. he is now setting out on a journey through the states to see what is worth seeing in that line in each state. he will visit Boston with the same view, and knowing your taste for the art, I take the liberty of recommending him to your notice, and of asking for him whatever information on the subject may be useful to his views while in Boston.
To Charles Bulfinch, July 2, 1802

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Smart leaders nurture young talent.
Robert Mills (1781-1855) was almost 21 when Jefferson wrote this letter of introduction. Young Mills was already studying architecture and had helped build the President’s House in Washington City. Jefferson made his library available to Mills. Now, Mills was beginning an architectural tour of the states.

Charles Bulfinch (1763-1844) was a noted Boston architect. With very little university training available in America, the mentor-protege system was necessary to prepare young talented young men. By this letter, Jefferson introduced Mills to Bulfinch, asking the older man’s assistance in educating the architect-in-training.

Mills had a significant architectural career. Although modified considerably from his original rendering, Mills was the designer of the Washington Monument. That construction began in 1848, reaching a height of about 155’ by the time of Mills’ death. For several reasons, construction ceased and was not begun again for 20 years. Upon completion in 1884, it was the tallest building in the world, just over 555’.

Among the inscriptions on the nine-inch aluminum tip that caps the monument, facing the rising sun each day, are these words, “Laus Deo.” Translated from Latin, they read “Praise be to God.”

“Your talent and ability to tie the theme of our … Conference to his [Thomas Jefferson's] presentation was amazing.”
North American Wildlife Enforcement Officers Association
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Should facts or fears govern us?

For observe, it is not the possibility of danger, which absolves a party from his contract: for that possibility always exists, & in every case. It existed in the present one at the moment of making the contract. If possibilities would avoid contracts, there never could be a valid contract. For possibilities hang over everything.
Opinion on the French Treaties, April 28, 1793

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Leaders should govern by what is, not what might be.
President Washington asked Secretary of State Jefferson and Secretary of Treasury Hamilton to submit opinions on whether the United States was still obligated by its treaties with France. Those treaties were made when France was a monarchy, and the king had since been beheaded. In fact, it wasn’t clear what kind of government would result from all of France’s internal turmoil.

Hamilton’s opinion was that the U.S. made treaties with a government that no longer existed. Either we were not bound by them, or we had a right to suspend them until the issue of their government was settled. He raised a lot of “what ifs” and speculated what future danger those treaties might pose to America.

Jefferson didn’t buy it. He described the “what ifs” as possibilities of danger, not danger itself. Those possibilities existed when they treaties were made. They still existed. He said we should governed by the facts and the commitments we had made (the treaties), not by fears of what might happen.

In a larger sphere, Jefferson would advise one to be governed by what is, not what might be. Very late in life (1825, age 81) he would write as #8 in his Decalogue of Canons, “How much pain have cost us the evils which have never happened.”

“… your command of Mr. Jefferson’s persona and mind
and your facility in answering complex questions were impressive.”
Louisiana Purchase Bicentennial Three Flags Festival, St. Louis
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Why is it good to bind men in chains?

The observations are but too just which are made in your friendly address on the origin & progress of those abuses of public confidence & power which have so often terminated in a suppression of the rights of the people, & the mere aggrandizement [made to appear greater] & emolument [enriching] of their oppressors. taught by these truths and aware of the tendency of power to degenerate into abuse, the worthies of our own Country have secured its independence by the establishment of a Constitution & form of Government for our nation calculated to prevent as well as to correct abuse.
To the Washington City Tammany Society*, March 2, 1890

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Honest leaders seek limitations to their authority.
This wordy and complicated excerpt, written two days before Jefferson left the Presidency, contains important observations about men and government:

1. Too much confidence in government officials leads to
– Too much power in their hands
– Their thinking more highly of themselves than they should
– Enriching themselves at public expense
– A suppression of the rights of the people

2. This “tendency of power to degenerate into abuse” inspired “the worthies of our own Country” (the founding fathers) to establish a government upon a Constitution.
– A Constitution is a “super law,” a law above all other laws, drafted by an assembly called for that purpose alone and adopted by considerably more than a mere majority of the states.
– Its purpose is to both prevent and correct abuses of power.

The post title is drawn from Jefferson’s draft of the Kentucky Resolutions, 1798. The answer to the question is because men cannot be trusted.

*Tammany Societies had their roots in early Pennsylvania and Delaware Chief Tammany. Originally, they envisioned a merging of European and American Indian cultures into a new and better one. The interesting letter from the Society to Jefferson was “styled” as if it were written by native Americans.

“It was heartening to see our members and guests
so engaged during your portrayal …”
Nevada Association of Counties
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What do laborers need on Labor Day?

…  with all these blessings, what more is necessary to make us a happy and a prosperous people? Still one thing more, fellow-citizens — a wise and frugal Government, which shall restrain men from injuring one another, shall leave them otherwise free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement, and shall not take from the mouth of labor the bread it has earned. This is the sum of good government, and this is necessary to close the circle of our felicities [happiness].
Thomas Jefferson’s First Inaugural Address, March 4, 1801

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Laborers need a hands-off government.
Jefferson saw the election of 1800 as the second American revolution. The voters rejected an activist national government and the taxes necessary to support it. They also rejected a fondness toward England and any possibility of a constitutional monarchy.

Jefferson’s inaugural address outlined the major principles which would guide his administration. He tried to bridge the gap between the political parties with this, “We have called by different names brethren of the same principle. We are all Republicans, we are all Federalists,”

Jefferson proposed a government which was wise, frugal, and intervened only to keep people from harming one another. Beyond that, government should let its citizens self-regulate for their own “industry and improvement.” Free to prosper in this way, government should not tax away what Americans labored to produce.

There were a number of taxes in 1801. Four years later, in his Second Inaugural Address, Jefferson would boast about the elimination of that burden when he asked “…what farmer, what mechanic, what laborer, ever sees a tax-gatherer of the United States?”

“The Missouri School Boards Association recommended Patrick Lee
in the persona of Thomas Jefferson [for our Leadership Conference].
There could not have been a better choice.”

Illinois School Boards Association
Jefferson will honor the labor of your audience.
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In the face of great unpleasantness …

when we see ourselves in a situation which must be endured & gone through, it is best to make up our minds to it, meet it with firmness, & accomodate every thing to it in the best way practicable. this lessens the evil. while fretting & fuming only serves to increase our own torment. the errors and misfortunes of others should be a school for our own instruction.
To Mary Jefferson Eppes, January 7, 1798

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Effective leaders benefit from having this ability.
Mary Eppes was Jefferson’s younger daughter, married just three months earlier. In a letter full of advice on how to maintain marital harmony, he began with the distressing news of his sister, Mary, whose husband of nearly 40 years was in a state of “habitual intoxication.” She was very impatient with him. Not only might that impatience compel her husband to continue drinking, it made her even more miserable.

With that backdrop, Jefferson counseled his daughter to meet unpleasantness with firmness and a determination to make the best of the situation. “This lessens the evil” while worry and anger only “increase our own torment.” He advised her to learn from “the errors and misfortunes of others,” rather than be sucked into their consequences.

“I am still receiving phone calls and notes from title people
all over the state telling me what a wonderful job you did …”

Missouri Land Title Association
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A 210 year-old copy machine? Really?

I believe that when you left America the invention of the Polygraph had not yet reached Boston. it is for copying with one pen while you write with the other … I think it the finest invention of the present age … knowing that you are in the habit of writing much … I have accordingly had one made [for you] … as a Secretary which copies for us what we write without the power of revealing it, I find it a most precious possession to a man in public business.
To James Bowdoin, July 10, 1806

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Far-sighted leaders promote new inventions.
Jefferson owned a polygraph, “the finest invention of the present age,” a device for making copies of letters. (Here’s another image, which better illustrates how it  folded up for transport.) It consisted of two ink pens suspended over two sheets of paper. The pens were held together by a series of wooden arms and hinges. When one of the pens was lowered onto the paper to write, the second pen followed along and made an identical copy. There were polygraphs with three and four ink pens for making multiple copies, but they were more difficult to use.

He loved the polygraph for several reasons. He kept a copy of everything he wrote. It allowed him to make a copy without having a secretary duplicate one from his original. Thus, he could keep his correspondence private. The polygraph was portable, and he traveled regularly between Washington City and Monticello. Finally, he simply loved inventions and machines. (He tinkered with Hawkins’ design to make it work better!)

What a polygraph cost in 1806 is anyone’s guess, but for sure, it was not cheap. Jefferson loved his new device so much he had one made for Bowdoin, an American minister to Spain. One of the lesser factors in Jefferson’s ever-increasing debt was his tendency to shower gifts on his friends, whether he had the cash to pay for them or not.

While Jefferson was devoted to his polygraph, it was not a commercial success. It took too much adjustment to keep in proper working order. That was not a problem for a man who loved to tinker.

P.S. To prove his point, Jefferson added his own P.S. to this letter, telling Bowdoin he was reading the pages made from the copying pen, not from the pen he held in his hand.

“We heard nothing but praise from the audience members.”
Washington State Association of Counties
Mr. Jefferson’s remarks will elicit praise from your audience, too.
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